Stories from Ancient China: An Emperor Humbly Takes Good Advice and Corrects His Mistakes

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In February of the year 581, Yang Jian, under the humble permission of the last Emperor of the Beizhou Dynasty, Jingdi (Yu Wenshan) became the first emperor of the Sui Dynasty of China. Sui Wendi then proceeded to establish the Sui Dynasty. Sui was a very capable Emperor who knew how to use people well and accept criticism. Once, he was mad at someone and wanted to kill him. His highest official, Mr. Su Wei (Duzhishangshu) tried to persuade him not to, but he was too mad to listen, and went ahead with his plans, trying to kill that person by his own hand. Mr. Su Wei bravely blocked him several times, causing Yang Jian return to his palace in anger. After a while, when he was no longer so angry, he asked Su Wei to visit him, and expressed his apology. He said sincerely to Su Wei, "Since I have a helper like you, nothing can worry me now."

Another time, Yang Jian was angry at an official and ordered that he be whipped in front of him. Liu Xingben (Jianyidafu) tried to persuade him, "Your Highness, this official has been an honoured person, and has hardly made any mistakes. Please forgive him."

Yang Jian ignored this plea.

Liu Xingben then spoke loudly to Yang Jian, "Your Highness thinks I am worthy of being the helper closest to him. How can you not listen to me when I am right? If I am wrong now, please have me punished."

Upon finishing his statement, he put down the Huban (the bamboo board used to speak to the Emperor), and withdrew from the Hall.

Yang Jian quickly had him brought back, apologised to him, and forgave the official who was to be whipped.

Story from Zizhitongjian - "The Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Government," compiled by Mr. Sima Guang between the years 1067 and 1084 during the Song Dynasty, and first printed in Hangzhou City in 1086. The whole work comprises 294 chapters, and covers the period from 403 BC to 959 AD.

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